No, I'm not dead, just resting ;)
Things in Monkeyland have been a tad hectic of late, with a number of factors combining to radically reduce both my opportunities to game, and the energy and enthusiasm I've had to blog about what little gaming I've done. To make matters worse, I've not picked up a brush since December, partly as a product of the aforementioned zaniness, and partly out of sheer doldrums.
That said, I did manage to get myself down to the Dueling Grounds the other night for my first ever game of Heroquest! This is something I've been hearing about for decades, have never had the opportunity to play, have always wanted to try, and had to back out of in my first opportunity a month or so ago (the game conflicted with a friend's birthday celebration).
This week, however, a few of the people from that game had to back out in turn, and I was able to take up the reins. Behold the glory of Reginald Slimbottom, Wizard of the Blue Rung, and Treasure-hunter extraordinaire!
The set is the product of ernieR's labour and love, and he's taken the time to paint not only the character figures, but the monsters as well. Not sure if he's planning on painting the scenery, but it wouldn't surprise me. With mostly new / replacement players at the table, we rebooted the campaign, and played out the first scenario in the series. Drawn by rumors of a dreaded gargoyle guarding a magnificent treasure, the story begins with our heroes kicking in the dungeon door, and setting out to explore what was what.
As it turns out, some of us were more enthusiastic about opening doors than others. Skyjack, who played the barbarian, who played the elf, decided to whisk along the corridors, popping doors along the way. The problem with this approach is that when you crack a door, there's a high likelihood that there will be monsters inside. Crack one alone, and you might not be able to handle what you find. Run away from what you find (cracking other doors along the way), and goes from being a "YP" to a "MP" ;)
In this case, the MP in question involved a couple of rather disgruntled Chaos Warriors, and thanks to some profoundly crappy movement rolls, I got to play "Tank". On the plus side, I had a rather tasty sleep spell handy, and thanks to the rather constricting corridors, was able to delay the warriors long enough for help to arrive.
Once the Chaos Warriors were out of the way, I adopted a rather effective strategy of watching the others fight, giving helpful advice, and then finding all the gold while other players encountered random monsters and traps ;)
Our next big battle was against the undead. Several skeletons and a mummy, as it happened. I told them not to go in the room with the torture device and creepy-looking altar.
And, once my fellow team members dispatched the odious dead, I found more gold!
We cleared out the last few "side rooms", before proceeding to the grand finale.
By this point, we'd learned to work as a team. While I've been joking a bit about running around finding treasure while my team-mates did the heavy lifting, the truth is that the wizard isn't much good in a fight. His base melee abilities are feeble, he's not tough at all, and he only gets two attack spells. What I did have going for me was a ton of support spells; mobility enhancers, heal spells, monster control spells, etc. By the time we got to the last room, we'd started fighting smart, and working together. We pooled our resources, including combat buffs from me, on the best fighter we had (the barbarian), made sure he had plenty of healing potions, and popped the door so that only one monster at a time could come out.
It worked terrifically well. The barbarian was busily chewing through the orks and Chaos Warrior minions the Gargoyle sent forth. And that's when we got cocky. The elf used my "pass through monsters" spell to do just that, and the Dwarf used my "pass through walls" spell to do just that, and then they died. horribly.
On the plus side, a still tooled-up barbarian remained as lethal as ever, and he made quick work of the Gargoyle.
At which point, I searched the room, and found, you guessed it, more treasure ;)
The punchline to all of this, is that there's only one item a wizard can buy in the game that's worth buying (a staff), so most of the money got donated to the communal fund. The barbarian, and the elf and dwarf we strangely found waiting to join our group outside, got nice new shiny helmets.
Verdict? Heroquest is fun! It's, as far as I know, the prototype for a whole genre of games (like Descent), and I can see why it's had such enduring popularity. Here's hoping I get a chance to play again.